Gyumri is the second-largest city in Armenia and the capital of the Shirak Province in the northwestern part of the country. Gyumri is one of the most ancient settlements in Armenia with a history of 3000 years and during those years its name has been changed several times. Gyumri was originally founded as Kumayri, later between 1837 and 1924 during the Russian rule, it was re-founded as Alexandrapol, then Leninakan between 1924 and 1990, and finally became known as Gyumri. Gyumri and the surrounding area have been populated since ancient times. The first mention of a state in the area of the Gyumri region was in Urartian inscriptions from the 8th century, and the state was known as Idanuna. The settlement named Kumayri first is mentioned in 774, and then again in the 13th century.
Over the centuries the word Kumayri went through changes and became Kumri and later turned it into Gumri, and now it’s Gyumri.
Gyumri: The Soviet Country’s Engineering Brain and Industrial Center
During the time of being part of the Soviet Socialist Republic Gyumri became a major industrial center and the second-largest city after the capital, Yerevan. The first steps toward improving the city’s economy were taken between 1920 and 1930. In a city with an efficient railway system, electrical trains were introduced in 1953, leading to the construction of a locomotive station in 1965.
Gyumri quickly became a center for the light industry, with a textile factory established in 1924 and a paint factory established in 1942. The machinery industry began to develop as well. The “Strommash”, Milling, Electrical machinery, “Armelectriccondenser”, Bicycle, “Armelectricaplaciance”, “Galvanometr”, Analytic devices, and Refrigerator compressor factories were founded from 1950-1960.
With an airport built in 1931 and trolley busses in 1960, Gyumri became more accessible to other regions, which opened up a wider scope of potential. As a result of this development, a sufficient amount of job opportunities was created in the sphere of transportation and communication. According to records dated January 1, 1988, the city had 54 industrial establishments employing 48,000 people.
Disaster struck in 1988 when Gyumri was devastated by the Spitak earthquake. More than half the city was destroyed, 25,000 people died and around 140,000 were injured.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Soviet Union promised to rebuild Gyumri quickly. But times had changed, and the Soviet Union had disintegrated in December 1991.Supply lines between the republics broke down, causing the city’s economy to plummet. Thousands of railroad containers were brought to Gyumri after the earthquake to house the population. Thousands died during the harsh winter of 1988 because the containers were uninsulated and lacked water and heat. Until 1994, the city center’s reconstruction was largely stalled because containers housing 10,000 families occupied the area’s avenues, parks, and plazas.
By 2004, 6,500 of these families had found permanent housing, and the majority of the remaining container homes had been relocated to neighborhoods on the outskirts of town.
A new start for Gyumri
Center of GyumriThe years of 1999-2002 began to shift the city toward positive change when the government adopted the “Disaster Zone Reconstruction and Development Concept,” which was followed by the “Disaster Zone Complex Project”. In 2008, a vitally important project, “Disaster Zone Housing” began. As a result, over 3,000 families were provided with shelter. Today, Gyumri is trying to become more and more developed, and Distrikt is one of the keys. The goal of Distrikt is to make Gyumri’s environment healthier and more liveable for its citizens, to enable economic and technological growth, creating jobs, and improving livelihoods for the citizens of Gyumri while ensuring the adoption of sustainability.